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September 19, 2013

City schools approve student drug testing policy

Will apply to students involved with extracurriculars

Cullman City Schools has officially approved a student drug-testing policy, which will go into effect this year. The policy is the first of its kind ever fully implemented for the system.

The policy applies to all students involved in extracurricular programs, and sets out three tiers of punishments for students who fail drug screenings, including community service and eventual dismissal from the applicable activity.

The policy guidelines state the initiative is a way to allow students to “demonstrate the character and leadership traits which they should possess.” The main objectives outline a need to maintain a drug-free campus, discourage drug use, reduce incidents of potential injury and protect the reputation of the school system and its students.

The policy has been in the works for several years, and school board member Brenda Howell said she is glad to see it finally go into effect. She also noted the new policy is meant as a deterrent, as a way to encourage students to remain drug-free.

“This has been a priority for us all along, for the whole board. It’s just taken a while to get it in the form we wanted it to be,” she said. “It isn’t a punitive policy, it’s designed to be preventive. We hope this will be a deterrent for substance abuse, that’s our hope. We want to prevent further addiction if it exists, and try to provide a way to address the problem.”

Though the current version is now board policy, Howell said the board may make some minor changes in the future once it is implemented. The board plans to pilot the program this year, and eventually roll it out to all extracurriculars next school year.

Drug tests will be given at random to students involved with extracurricular activities. A drug screening release form will now be required for students to participate in extracurriculars.

If a student fails one drug screening, he/she will be suspended from participation for 10 percent of the season; required to complete an alcohol/drug assessment program; required to complete 25 hours of school/community service and must receive a negative screening for readmittance.

If a student fails two drug screenings, he/she will be dismissed from competition for the remainder of the season; the student and parents must complete mandatory drug counseling; the student must complete 50 hours of community/school service; and must have a negative screening for readmittance.

If a student fails three drug screenings, he/she is suspended from participation indefinitely, or for a period of time determined by the administrator.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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